16.02.2009
FLUG REVUE

Weekly News Update 16 Februar 2009News Update 16 February 2009 - News in Brief

Short stories from around the aerospace industry.<br />

Kurzmeldungen
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The European Commission has decided to open the formal investigation procedure into the privatisation and restructuring of Austrian Airlines whereby it will be taken over by Lufthansa. The Commission expresses doubts that the price to be paid by Lufthansa reflects the market price for what is being sold, that the Austrian State has acted as private investor and whether the restructuring plan as notified is in accordance with the Community framework for rescue and restructuring of firms in difficulty. Following a privatisation procedure Lufthansa has been selected to buy the Austrian State's stake (41.56%) in Austrian Airlines. The deal comprises three elements: Lufthansa pays a purchase price of € 366.268,75; the State receives a debtor warrant, which may lead to an additional payment; the State pays a grant of € 500 million, which Lufthansa shall use for a capital increase in Austrian Airlines. The Commission has decided to open the investigative State aid procedure as it has doubts concerning existence of State aid and whether this State aid can be declared compatible with the common market. In particular, it doubts whether the price paid (including the debtor warrant) reflects the market price for Austrian Airlines at the time it was sold. And it has doubts also whether the sale was truly open, transparent and unconditional and whether the State really acted as a market economy investor.
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The EU Commission published a list of aircraft operators to be included in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme as of 1 January 2012. The list is part of the implementation of the legislation to include aircraft operators in the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Aviation activities of aircraft operators that operate flights arriving at and departing from Community aerodromes will be included in the scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community. Each aircraft operator is covered by a single Member State, which will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements of the legislation. Member States are responsible for the aircraft operators to which they issued an operating licence and for the aircraft operators whose emissions in 2006 were mostly attributable to that Member State. The list was drawn up together with EUROCONTROL, the international organisation responsible for European air traffic management. The Commission will update the list each year by 1 February to include aircraft operators that have subsequently performed an aviation activity as defined in the legislation. Air transport plays a major role in the EU economy, but while the EU's total greenhouse gas emissions are falling, aviation's share of overall EU-greenhouse gas emissions is growing faster than any other sector and risks undermining the progress achieved through emission cuts in other sectors. The Commission now invites feedback from Member States and other relevant stakeholders by 31 March 2009 and will publish a revised list if necessary.
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Saab has received an order from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, FMV, for studies during 2009 regarding future capabilities for the Gripen multi-role fighter. The contract value is 400 million SEK. This order is a continuation of a project that started last year. It will form the base for the Swedish Armed Forces decisions regarding what capabilities and technologies to incorporate in the Gripen system to meet new demands and future threats.
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NASA has selected Orbital Sciences Corp., of Dulles, Va., to launch the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, high energy X-ray telescope. The spacecraft will fly in 2011 aboard a Pegasus XL rocket from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site located at the Pacific Ocean's Kwajalein Atoll. The total cost of the NuSTAR launch services is approximately $36 million dollars. This estimated cost includes the task ordered launch service for a Pegasus XL rocket, plus additional services under other contracts for payload processing, launch vehicle integration, and tracking, data and telemetry support. NuSTAR will be the first focusing high energy X-ray telescope in orbit. The telescope will conduct a census for black holes, map radioactive material in young supernovae remnants, and study the origins of cosmic rays and the extreme physics around collapsed stars.
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The new business unit is part of Airbus' strategy to expand its position as a worldwide supplier of new production freighter aircraft, and to support the passenger-to-cargo conversions of its jetliners. Airbus has created a dedicated business unit to oversee the company's growing role as a global supplier of new-built cargo aircraft and to support the conversions of its passenger jetliners to freighters. This business unit's short-term objectives include the continued sale of Airbus' new mid-sized A330-200F, as well as assisting its current lessor customers in placing these widebody freighters with airline operators worldwide. In the passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion sector, the business unit's goals include supporting the ongoing transformation of A300/A310 widebody jetliners, assisting in the new single-aisle A320/A321P2F conversion programme, and preparing for future freighter transformations of A330s and A340s as these widebody jetliners become available from passenger airline fleets.
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The passenger-to-cargo conversion programme for Airbus A320s has achieved a major milestone by completing its technical definition phase, with the aircraft's details presented today to an international customer working group meeting in Miami, Florida. Developed to meet the requirements for a new-generation aircraft capable of both express cargo and general market freighter operations, the A320P2F is targeted to enter service from 2012, when many of the world's current single-aisle freighters will be 40 years old. The A320P2F - and its longer-fuselage A321P2F version - will utilise aircraft that have completed their useful lives as passenger jetliners, and will be transformed to the freighter configuration by the Airbus Freighter Conversion (AFC) joint venture in Germany. This process includes incorporating a large 121-inch wide cargo door in the aft fuselage, installing a new reinforced main deck floor, and integrating cargo loading systems. Launch customer for the P2F programme is the Netherlands-based Aer Cap leasing company, which has signed to convert 30 A320/A321 passenger aircraft in its portfolio to freighters. The A320P2F aircraft will carry up to 21-22 metric tonnes of cargo on the main deck and in its lower cargo holds, with the total payload increasing to as much as 28 tonnes for the A321. Advantages of A320s and A321s in the new freighter role include their modern design - providing high efficiency and performance, as well as low noise and emissions. These two jetliners' total cockpit and operational commonality offer excellent new levels of flexibility in aircraft scheduling, allowing them to be interchanged when needed in matching an airline's cargo lift with actual loads, while maintaining the same flight crews.
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2008 has been a challenging year for the Aerospace Manufacturing industry with its record breaking oil price hike in decades, which has seen amplified logistics costs due to the globalized nature of manufacturing supply chain. This has resulted in many business experts disagreeing with the idea of expanding a company network of suppliers to other low costs countries because in the end they will still have to pay extra on the logistic costs. Prior to the oil price hike, Airbus in 2006 made the right choice and announced that since they already have a strong network of suppliers in the Asia Pacific region, transferred its' A320 aircraft assembly into Tianjin, China due to the expected high demand in the region. The plant started operations in 2008 and is currently assembling four A320 aircraft with expected delivery this year. According to Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific Consultant of Aerospace & Defense Practice Syahril Shariff, global Aerospace Manufacturing revenue in 2008 was estimated to register more than US$337 billion with growth below 7.0 percent, lower than the previous years. Frost & Sullivan estimated Asia Pacific's revenue at US$47.9 billion or 14.2 percent of global output, with slightly higher growth rate than global average. He adds that despite the tremendous drop in the price of oil in the past few months, OEMs still have to endure another challenging task in 2009 in surviving the global economic slowdown. "Total air traffic growth is expected to reduce to below 6.0 percent per annum with air cargo market experiencing the highest decline in growth rates," he continues.
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Raytheon has delivered the fifth and final Sentinel R Mk 1 aircraft to U.K. Royal Air Force at RAF Waddington. With this hand over, Raytheon's U.K.-based subsidiary Raytheon Systems Limited has now completed delivery of all Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) equipment to the U.K. Ministry of Defence. With the five Sentinel aircraft, Raytheon delivered six tactical ground station units, two operational level ground station units, support vehicles, and an extensive and sophisticated support infrastructure. A 10-year contractor logistics support program sees RSL directly supporting the front line on operations and in training and logistics, including what is known as "Contractor Support to Deployed Operations."The ASTOR system provides wide-area ground surveillance using a dual mode radar system that incorporates a synthetic aperture radar and a moving target indicator. The data from the state-of-the-art radar system is exploited and disseminated by an extensive and sophisticated communications suite including wide- and narrow-band data links, tactical data links, secure VHF and UHF radios and satellite communications, all controlled through a central mission system operated by crews in the air and ground segments.
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Lockheed Martin delivered the second of three fully modernized developmental test C-5M aircraft to the U.S. Air Force. Following a brief ceremony at the company's Marietta facility, Gen. Arthur J. Lichte, Commander, Air Mobility Command, flew the C-5M to Dover AFB, Del., where Air Force flight crews and maintainers will become familiar with the aircraft's new systems and capabilities. The C-5M Super Galaxy climbs higher and faster than its legacy counterparts while carrying more cargo over longer distances. It also requires less tanker support and is projected to have a much higher mission availability rate due to increased reliability. Current Air Force plans call for Lockheed Martin to deliver 52 fully modernized C-5Ms by 2016.
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A series of special effects negatively impacted the January 2009 traffic figures at Frankfurt Airport (FRA) - in addition to the fall in demand for cargo and passenger volumes caused by the weak economy. These effects included strikes by Deutsche Lufthansa cabin personnel and tough winter weather conditions compared to the previous year and led to an over proportionate number of flight cancellations - also at other airports in Europe and North America. Furthermore, DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung (Germany's air traffic control company) suffered a breakdown in the transmission of weather data, which resulted in extensive flight cancellations. In total, hundreds of flights had to be cancelled at FRA during January 2009. On top of this, extended factory holidays in the automobile industry resulted in a decline in flight bookings and cargo tonnage. These events, along with economic developments, led to a further decline in traffic figures. Recording some 3.5 million passengers, FRA experienced a 10.4 percent traffic drop year-on-year. Cargo throughput shrank by 23.5 percent to 124,208 metric tons of airfreight and airmail. Aircraft movements dropped by seven percent to 35,448 takeoffs and landings compared to January 2008, due partly to precautionary measures by certain airlines to temporarily reduce their flight schedules. Accumulated maximum takeoff weights (MTOWs) slid by 6.1 percent in January 2009 to approximately 2.1 million metric tons.
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Boeing announced that it has delivered the final upgraded missile guidance set (MGS) for the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to the U.S. Air Force, completing 82 months -- or nearly seven years -- of consecutive on-time or early deliveries. Boeing made the final delivery two months ahead of schedule. The milestone was highlighted at a Dec. 11 ceremony attended by representatives of the Air Force, Boeing and ICBM prime contractor Northrop Grumman. Boeing performed the MGS upgrade under the ICBM Guidance Replacement Program (GRP), a modernization effort to replace and upgrade the 1970s-vintage navigational electronics in the Minuteman III. Boeing began production of the new electronic sets in 1998.
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Boeing delivered its first EA-18G Growler maintenance trainer to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Wash., on Nov. 21 -- two weeks ahead of an already tight schedule. "I'm honored to lead such a complete Integrated Product Team. As usual, they all stepped up and teamed to deliver this important Growler maintenance trainer two weeks ahead of schedule," said Capt. Darryl "Spike" Long, Aviation Training Systems program manager for the U.S. Navy.
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ATR has received from the London City Airport (LCY) the approval to operate the ATR 72-500 in this downtown airport, after the aircraft successfully completed steep-approach trials and noise tests. According to the LCY specific requirements due to the presence of obstacles, ATR has demonstrated the ability of the ATR 72-500 to approach the airport at 5.5°, while complying also with the strict limitations of the airport in terms of noise. The ATR 72-500 joins the ATR 42-300 and the ATR 42-500, which are already approved to operate at LCY. The Irish carrier Aer Arann becomes today the first operator of the ATR 72-500 aircraft at the London City Airport, with inaugural flights from and to the Isle of Man.
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Bombardier Aerospace announced that it has finalized the terms for and granted option rights to Colgan Air. for 15 Q400 NextGen turboprop airliners. These option rights are additional to Colgan Air's firm order for 15 Q400 NextGen airliners which was announced on January 15, 2009. Colgan Air is a wholly owned subsidiary of Pinnacle Airlines Corp.
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Saab and TATA Consultancy Services (TCS) partnered Aeronaoutical Design and Development Centre (ADDC) has been awarded its first contract by Saab to participate in the aerostructural design and development for Gripen Next Generation. This will enable ADDC to play a pivotal role in development activities in different Saab products. The announcement of ADDC's first contract was made on a well attended press conference held in Bangalore in India yesterday.
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The Aero India trade show in Bangalore is the occasion for Turbomeca to report the successful maiden flight of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Dhruv helicopter. Featuring two Ardiden 1H1 series production engines, this flight took place on January 12 at the HAL Helicopter Division, Bangalore, India. The Ardiden 1H1 engine, to be certified in India under the name 'Shakti', demonstrated excellent aeromechanical behavior during this maiden flight, confirming its performance capabilities in demanding flight conditions at altitude on the Leh base in north India. The Indian Ministry of Defence has ordered 159 Dhruv helicopters to date.
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CFM International (CFM) has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL). Under the terms of this agreement, GHIAL and CFM will work towards the development of a new CFM56 Maintenance Training Center at the Rajiv Gandhi Airport in Hyderabad. The new training center is envisioned to mirror CFM facilities currently operating in France, the United States, and China, and would initially provide advanced courses in line maintenance and inspection of CFM56-5B and CFM56-7B engines, which power the majority of Airbus A320 family aircraft and all Boeing 737s, respectively. The new center's planned location is in a special economic zone at the airport dedicated to maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).
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SELEX Galileo, of Finmeccanica, and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) of India have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will explore potential opportunities in the field of Electronic Warfare in the Indian market including offset requirements and contract manufacturing for export markets. Current opportunities include offset requirements in MoD programmes like MMRCA, in which SELEX Galileo is participating through global aircraft manufacturers. The new partnership between SELEX Galileo and BEL, a key developer and manufacturer of electronic warfare equipment for the Indian armed forces, will provide significant market opportunities for both companies.
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Honeywell announced its F125IN engine, a 9850lbf (43.8kN) thrust engine that will deliver high performance, improved pilot safety, lower maintenance and outstanding reliability. The F125IN powerplant, which is currently being considered for the Indian Air Force Jaguar re-engining program, is significantly lighter and much more powerful than the aircraft's current engine. It has an advanced dual full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) system, modular construction, integrated engine health monitoring system and best in class thrust-to-weight ratio – all designed to give the military the best engine with the lowest operating and maintenance costs. In 2007 the F125IN was successfully demonstrated for the Indian Air Force in Bangalore. The engine is projected to save the Indian Air Force more than Rupees 7000 Crores ($1.5 billion) in life-cycle costs compared to other upgrade options being considered. The F125IN permits the Jaguar to perform missions never before possible with the current engine.
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Hawker Beechcraft Acquisition Company, LLC (HBAC) reported net sales of $3.5 billion and operating income of $135.5 million for the 12 months ending Dec. 31, 2008. 2008 net sales were significantly impacted by the four-week strike by the International Association of Machinists (IAM) in August. The strike disrupted manufacturing and assembly operations, which significantly reduced aircraft deliveries for the remainder of the year. During 2008, the Company delivered 441 business and general aviation aircraft, consisting of 160 business jet, 178 turboprop and 103 piston aircraft. The strike also impacted sales volume in the Trainer Aircraft segment as discussed further in Segment Results. Operating income for the year was also impacted by the reduced deliveries as a result of the strike. The strike resulted in lower Business and General Aviation segment aircraft deliveries and reduced production in the Trainer Aircraft segment, impacting overall operating income. Also included in 2008 results were charges of $91.1 million associated with increased costs to conform specific early-production Hawker 4000 units to the final type design and establish more normal production processes. The Company recorded a net after-tax loss for the year of $139.9 million. The loss included the impact of a non-cash increase in tax expense of $108.7 million as a result of a valuation reserve recorded against the U.S. federal deferred tax assets in compliance with the prescribed GAAP accounting treatment for deferred tax assets.
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The first U.S. Air Force Milstar communications satellite, built by a Lockheed Martin team, has achieved 15 years of on-orbit operations. Five years beyond its original design life, the satellite is 100 percent mission capable and will continue providing secure, reliable and robust communications to U.S. and Allied Forces around the globe for years to come. Launched aboard a Titan IV rocket from Cape Canaveral on Feb. 7, 1994, the first Milstar satellite has since been successfully repositioned five times to maximize the system's capabilities and coverage. The satellite has provided over 125,000 hours of communications service with more than 99.5 percent availability to date. The five-satellite Milstar constellation, which will surpass 50 years of combined successful operations in April 2009, provides a protected, global communication network for the joint forces of the U.S. military and can transmit voice, data, and imagery, in additio
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With a view to increasing its surveillance capabilities, Indian Air Force is going to have its own satellite in space by the end of 2010. "We will launch our satellite by the end of 2010," IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major said in Bangalore on Thursday. The satellite to be launched by ISRO next year will be a dual-use satellite and will be used for civilian purposes also. It will help the IAF to position its aerial and ground assets and targets. It would be used to gather navigational information. In the recent past, IAF has been working closely to develop its space-based capabilities. It even has plans of setting up an Aerospace command under it but it has faced opposition from the other two services over the issue.
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On January 27, 2009, Sagem (SAFRAN Group) and the French defense procurement agency DGA successfully carried out the first firing test of the 125-kilogram version of the AASM modular air-to-ground weapon. This successful test was a major step forward in the development of the AASM family. The AASM 125 comprises a Mk81 type 125 kg bomb, to which are attached inertial/GPS guidance and range augmentation kits. These same kits are already used on the 250-kg AASM 250 version, now in service with the French air force's Rafale fighters.
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The seventh edition of 'Aero India' got off to a spectacular start at the Yelahanka air base in Bengaluru. Breathtaking mavoeuvres by Indian and foreign pilots in their fighter jets streaking and tumbling across the sky included the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) 'Tejas', F/A-18 Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, F-16 'Falcon', Russian Mig-35D and IAF's Su-30 MKI, Jaguars and Mirage-2000. Five of the newly inducted 'Hawk' advance jet trainers built by HAL and four LCA 'Tejas' also flew in impressive arrowhead formations at the display leaving the spectators spellbound. Aero India 09 was formally inaugurated by Defence Minister, Shri AK Antony in the presence of the Ministers of State for Defence - Shri Rao Inderjit Singh and Shri MM Pallam Raju, Karnataka Chief Minister, Dr. BS Yediyurappa, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal FH Major, Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Defence Secretary Shri Vijay Singh, DG CII, Shri C Banerjee, Chairman HAL, Shri Ashok Baweja and other top dignitaries. Speaking at the occasion, Shri Antony said despite the economic recession, there was no question of scaling down the defence expenditure, or compromising with the ongoing acquisition programmes. With defence industry now open to 100 per cent Indian private sector participation, and FDI up to 26 per cent, the government's emphasis is on public-private partnership in the defence industry, he said. Shri Antony also announced that the eighth Aero India will be held from February 9-13, 2011 at Bengaluru.
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During the fourth quarter, Volvo Aero's net sales increased by 12% to SEK 2,239 M (1,992), mainly due to a higher US dollar rate. Adjusted for currency fluctuations, net sales increased by 2%. Operating income was SEK 141 M (196) and the operating margin 6.3% (9.8) Sales for the year were 7 448 MSEK, compared to 7 646 MSEK for the previous year. This equates to a decrease of 3% though is no real change if exchange rate variancies are taken into account. Operating profit was 359 MSEK, 32% down on 2007's figure of 529 MSEK. This means that the operating margin has reduced from 6.9% to 4.8% for the year. The operating income was impacted positively by new spare parts and the strengthening of the US dollar. However, income was negatively affected by lower volumes and lower margins in the US aftermarket business, delayed volume increases from Boeing and Airbus, resulting in lower capacity utilization in the component production plants.
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US Air Force officials have decided to bed down 59 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and to allow associated construction at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., to begin, implementing a BRAC 2005 decision. The decision also imposes temporary operational limitations on JSF flight training activities both to avoid and to minimize noise impacts. This decision requires a supplemental environmental analysis be conducted to study operational alternatives and noise mitigations for the 59 aircraft authorized to be delivered under this decision. The analysis is scheduled for completion in September 2010.
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The Commission Vice-President responsible for transport, Antonio Tajani, met Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of the European Space Agency, in order to give official endorsement to their continued cooperation in the Galileo programme. This meeting comes after the signing of a delegation agreement covering Galileo's deployment phase by the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) on 19 December 2008. “Signing this agreement represents a commitment to quality and efficiency and marks the beginning of an exemplary cooperation between the Commission and the European Space Agency. Galileo is now entering a new era where space age technology brings down-to-earth benefits for every citizen and business in Europe. With Galileo, the European Union will buy a state-of-the-art satellite navigation system which will increase economic efficiency and reduce congestion and energy consumption throughout the transport sector. That means boosting growth and jobs and helping to tackle climate change, while also making everyday life safer and easier,” said Vice-President Antonio Tajani. Since 25 July 2008, the European Commission has been responsible for the management of the Egnos and Galileo programmes. The role of the European Space Agency is no less crucial since, as the guardian of European technical space know-how, it is acting as project manager for the two programmes.
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Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines are stepping up their cooperation within the framework of the planned admission of the Belgian carrier to the Star Alliance. From 15 February, passengers from both airlines will have access to both their lounges. Members with Platinum status in the Belgian airline's Privilege frequent flyer programme will in future be entitled to use all Lufthansa Senator and Business-Class lounges, worldwide. In turn, Lufthansa's frequently flying Miles & More members will have access to the lounges of Brussels Airlines. From this weekend, HON Circle members of Miles & More as well as passengers with Senator status and First-Class travellers will have the use of the Belgian carrier’s lounges in Brussels. Additionally, passengers' baggage can be checked-through to their final destination on flights operated by the two airlines.
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SR Technics Group (SR Technics) announced with regret that it intends to close its operation at Dublin Airport. It will now enter into consultation with the trade unions representing the 1,135 employees at the facility. The recent loss of major contracts from primary load customers in Dublin, the current business and economic forecasts as well as the high cost base of the operation means it will not be possible to fill the resulting capacity gaps with sustainable business in the medium-term. SR Technics has been carrying out an in-depth review and assessment of all lines of business across the entire Group, including an evaluation of their financial, operational and strategic impact. As a result of this review, the Group intends to close its operation at Dublin Airport. Against the backdrop of adverse market conditions for the aviation industry and the global economic downturn SR Technics is restructuring its business to secure the Group's long-term future and to deliver the necessary efficiencies and improved productivity throughout the Group.
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In its extraordinary meeting held on 9 February 2009, the Supervisory Board of Austrian Airlines has appointed Dr. Peter Malanik and Dr. Andreas Bierwirth as members of the Board of Management with equal rights, and unanimously expressed its confidence in the new team. The President of the Supervisory Board, Dr. Peter Michaelis, said the following about the resolution: “I am convinced that Dr. Bierwirth and Dr. Malanik will successfully overcome the difficult challenges to come during the coming year of crisis, and that they will achieve the medium-term improvement in the result required for Austrian Airlines to secure a positive future for the airline.”
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